Adam Smith Ideas Are Not Represented in 'Atlas Shrugged'
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Following yesterday's plea for help in locating the full text of the WSJ article, 'Capitalist Heroes' which contained the sentence below, I have received a full text from a reader (for which many thanks).
The article was written by Mr. David Kelley, author of "A Life of One's Own: Individual Rights and the Welfare State" (Cato Institute, 1998), and who is the founder of The Atlas Society.
Wall Street Journal - USA
... in the 18th century by Adam Ferguson and Adam Smith: how private vice can produce public good, how the pursuit of self-interest yields benefits for all."
You can find the article here.
The affiliation of its author, Mr David Kelly, to the CATO Institute is surprising, not for the reviewer's interpretation of Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged, but for his interpretation of Adam Smith philosophy. Does the WSJ not have editors and fact checkers?
The slightest acquaintance with Adam Smith's two published works, Theory of Moral Philosophy (1759) and Wealth Of Nations (1776), should cause concerns about attributing to Adam Smith the 'virtues of selfishness'. Such ideas were wholly the from Bernard Mandeville and his Fable of the Bees (1724).
Adam Smith was born in 1723 and he sharply criticised Mandeville in Moral Sentiments (TMS VII.iv.: 'Of Licentious Systems': pp 306-14), 'leaving no doubts as to his critical attiude towards Mandeville's ideas.
Wealth Of Nations does not endorse Mandeville's claims on the virtues of selfishness and makes clear that self-interest, or self-love, is not a synonym for selfishness.
The question arises as to why David Kelly writes as if Adam Smith did assert anything remotely like mandeville's licentious notions? He certainly did not get this notion from reading Adam Smith (at least not from the Adam Smith born in Kirkcaldy in 1723).